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Qatar talks a good step towards peace: Stankzai

AT-KABUL: The High Peace Council (HPC) termed recent informal talks with representative of the Taliban in Qatar as a positive step towards resumption of peace negotiations.

Secretary of the HPC, Masoum Stankzai, in an interview with Radio Azadi said: “They were not formal talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. However, the negotiations were attended by representatives of different political groups, where they expressed their viewpoints vis-à-vis peace in Afghanistan.”

Stankzai added that the talks were attended by representatives of the government, members of the HPC, parliamentarians, civil society activists, women rights activists, political figures, as well as representatives of the Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) led by Gulbadin Hekmatyar and the Taliban. He hoped that formal parleys between the government and the Taliban will start soon.

“We should practically show that we have a strong will to put an end to wars and bring lasting peace to Afghanistan,” he added.

One of the main prerequisites of the Taliban for peace talks was withdrawal all foreign troops from Afghanistan. However, Stankzai said the issue has now been solved, as currently around 90 percent of foreign forces have left Afghanistan and Afghan security forces have now shouldered full responsibility for security of the country.

Talking about presence of foreign militants among the Taliban fighters, Stankzai said that they can only have a short time presence in Afghanistan, as their presence is not even in the favor of the Taliban. “Presence of foreign militants will damage the Taliban’s image in Afghanistan, for it is not justifiable to take ordinary passengers as hostages. No one can justify the suicide blast in Jalalabad or attack on a playground,” he added.

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